Three meetings of the Comhairle are to be held in Uist in April – the first time in more than a decade.
Twenty four members representing Lewis and Harris wards will join their Southern Isles colleagues to debate and discuss items at the Audit and Scrutiny Committee, the Policy and Resources Committee and the full Comhairle meeting on April 24th.
The meetings are a one-off exercise and not expected to become a regular part of the Comhairle meetings schedule but were suggested by councillors at the end of last year.
It is estimated that the travel and expenses of the 24 councillors will total around £2,000 which has been questioned by some members of the public and possibly some members at a time when the local authority is making cuts to services and even jobs.
However, Uist members think it is worth it to get Lewis and Harris councillors to see for themselves some of the issues facing Uist and Barra communities.
Barra, Vatersay, Eriskay and South Uist member Donnie Steele said: “I believe this should happen in the Southern Isles at least twice in a term of office. It’s a great opportunity for those interested in local politics to see what actually goes on.”
A venue for the meetings has not yet been agreed but Cllr Steele feels that Daliburgh School might be a better venue than Sgoil Lionacleit to allow people from the communities on Barra and Vatersay to be able to travel over for the day to attend.
He added: “ I understand that some members may not attend, it’s disappointing but they should really look in their own backyard where wasting money is concerned.
“The lack of services and facilities necessary for the Southern Isles economy to function, may put them off. I would urge all Cllrs to make the journey, then they can see what the problems south of the Clisham really are.”
His colleague Cllr Neil Beaton of Benbecula and North Uist ward said democracy had a price: “This has been a long term goal of the council to have meetings outwith Stornoway from time to time.
“In future when video conferencing facilities and technology improves this will be of great benefit but at the moment it would not be effective in practice.
“This will be an interesting exercise and I hope that the public will be able to come and witness the work of the different council committees at firsthand. I am aware of the costs involved but democracy has a price.”